"Just Imagine," from 1930, used to make me drool as a kid seeing some of the fabulous stills in "Famous Monsters of Filmland." With its futuristic setting, "Metropolis"-style special effects, rocketship and Martians, I imagined I'd be in sci-fi paradise. But now I know that it might be better viewed as a pre-code, musical-comedy fantasy of Prohibition Era America.
It was directed by David Butler, who was born in San Francisco, began directing in silents, and is best known for exactly these kinds of films; lightweight musical-comedies. He directed a couple of Hope/Crosby road pictures, and nearly all the Shirley Temple movies of the Thirties at Fox. This seemed to have been his element, not science fiction.
The cast includes a pre-Tarzan, Maureen O'Sullivan, British actor John Garrick, fresh-faced Frank Albertson, and tragic Marjorie White, who died prematurely in a car accident five years later. The cast is headed surprisingly by El (Elmer) Brendel, famous in vaudeville, and later movies, for his Swedish dialect characters. His comedic relief is not as tiresome as you might expect, and he gets the film's best line when faced with an amorous guard on Mars.
The music is written by prolific song writers DeSylva, Brown and Henderson. Buddy DeSylva produced "Just Imagine" just as he produced the aforementioned Shirley Temple films for Fox. Probably the most familiar song in "Just Imagine" is "Never Swat A Fly" re-recorded by many, including a popular 1967 version by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band.
This is a somewhat improved print, hopefully with clearer sound, better image quality and titles. And it should play all the way through unlike a previous version here at AI.